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Best Famous Robert Duncan Poems

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Written by Robert Duncan | Create an image from this poem

My Mother Would Be a Falconress

 My mother would be a falconress,
And I, her gay falcon treading her wrist,
would fly to bring back
from the blue of the sky to her, bleeding, a prize, 
where I dream in my little hood with many bells 
jangling when I'd turn my head.
My mother would be a falconress, and she sends me as far as her will goes.
She lets me ride to the end of her curb where I fall back in anguish.
I dread that she will cast me away, for I fall, I mis-take, I fail in her mission.
She would bring down the little birds.
And I would bring down the little birds.
When will she let me bring down the little birds, pierced from their flight with their necks broken, their heads like flowers limp from the stem? I tread my mother's wrist and would draw blood.
Behind the little hood my eyes are hooded.
I have gone back into my hooded silence, talking to myself and dropping off to sleep.
For she has muffled my dreams in the hood she has made me, sewn round with bells, jangling when I move.
She rides with her little falcon upon her wrist.
She uses a barb that brings me to cower.
She sends me abroad to try my wings and I come back to her.
I would bring down the little birds to her I may not tear into, I must bring back perfectly.
I tear at her wrist with my beak to draw blood, and her eye holds me, anguisht, terrifying.
She draws a limit to my flight.
Never beyond my sight, she says.
She trains me to fetch and to limit myself in fetching.
She rewards me with meat for my dinner.
But I must never eat what she sends me to bring her.
Yet it would have been beautiful, if she would have carried me, always, in a little hood with the bells ringing, at her wrist, and her riding to the great falcon hunt, and me flying up to the curb of my heart from her heart to bring down the skylark from the blue to her feet, straining, and then released for the flight.
My mother would be a falconress, and I her gerfalcon raised at her will, from her wrist sent flying, as if I were her own pride, as if her pride knew no limits, as if her mind sought in me flight beyond the horizon.
Ah, but high, high in the air I flew.
And far, far beyond the curb of her will, were the blue hills where the falcons nest.
And then I saw west to the dying sun-- it seemd my human soul went down in flames.
I tore at her wrist, at the hold she had for me, until the blood ran hot and I heard her cry out, far, far beyond the curb of her will to horizons of stars beyond the ringing hills of the world where the falcons nest I saw, and I tore at her wrist with my savage beak.
I flew, as if sight flew from the anguish in her eye beyond her sight, sent from my striking loose, from the cruel strike at her wrist, striking out from the blood to be free of her.
My mother would be a falconress, and even now, years after this, when the wounds I left her had surely heald, and the woman is dead, her fierce eyes closed, and if her heart were broken, it is stilld I would be a falcon and go free.
I tread her wrist and wear the hood, talking to myself, and would draw blood.
Written by Robert Duncan | Create an image from this poem

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

 as if it were a scene made-up by the mind, 
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart, 
an eternal pasture folded in all thought 
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light 
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.
Wherefrom fall all architectures I am I say are likenesses of the First Beloved whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.
She it is Queen Under The Hill whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words that is a field folded.
It is only a dream of the grass blowing east against the source of the sun in an hour before the sun's going down whose secret we see in a children's game of ring a round of roses told.
Often I am permitted to return to a meadow as if it were a given property of the mind that certain bounds hold against chaos, that is a place of first permission, everlasting omen of what is.
Written by Robert Duncan | Create an image from this poem

The Song of the Borderguard

 The man with his lion under the shed of wars
sheds his belief as if he shed tears.
The sound of words waits - a barbarian host at the borderline of sense.
The enamord guards desert their posts harkening to the lion-smell of a poem that rings in their ears.
-Dreams, a certain guard said were never designd so to re-arrange an empire.
Along about six o'clock I take out my guitar and sing to a lion who sleeps like a line of poetry in the shed of wars.
The man shedding his belief knows that the lion is not asleep, does not dream, is never asleep, is a wide-awake poem waiting like a lover for the disrobing of the guard; the beautil boundaries of the empire naked, rapt round in the smell of a lion.
(The barbarians have passt over the significant phrase) -When I was asleep, a certain guard says, a man shed his clothes as if he shed tears and appeard as a lonely lion waiting for a song under the shed-roof of wars.
I sang the song that he waited to hear, I, the Prize-Winner, the Poet Acclaimd.
Dear, Dear, Dear, Dear, I sang, believe, believe, believe, believe.
The shed of wars is splendid as the sky, houses our waiting like a pure song housing in its words the lion-smell of the beloved disrobed.
I sang: believe, believe, believe.
I the guard because of my guitar belive.
I am the certain guard, certain of the Beloved, certain of the lion, certain of the Empire.
I with my guitar.
Dear, Dear, Dear, Dear, I sing.
I, the Prize-Winner, the Poet on Guard.
The borderlines of sense in the morning light are naked as a line of poetry in a war.